Tag Archives: romance

Review of Wolf’s-Own Bundle, by Carole Cummings

I purchased a copy of Carole CummingsWolf’s-Own bundle, containing Ghost, Weregild, Koan, Incendiary.

Description from Goodreads:
Read Wolf’s-own: the four-book fantasy epic featuring Fen Jacin-rei—Incendiary, Catalyst, Once-Untouchable—and Kamen Malick, who is determined to decode the intrigue that surrounds him. Fen’s mind is host to the spirits of long-dead magicians, and Fen’s fate should be one of madness and ignoble death. So how is it Fen lives, carrying out shadowy vengeance for his subjugated people and protecting the family he loves? With a threat all too close and a secret he needs to explain, Malick is at odds with those who should be his allies, and no matter how much he wants to protect Fen, it may be more than he can manage when he’s trying to keep them alive

I’m not going to write individual reviews for each of these books, because though I understand they are split up to avoid a 900 page epic and each does come to a relatively natural stopping point, it is undeniably one single story and any individual book would be most unsatisfactory on its own. So, they are not stand-alones! But since I read them as a bundle I’ll rate/review them as one. Even as I acknowledge that if I’d only had the first, I likely wouldn’t rate it so high, considering its lack of conclusion.

But as a single story I really enjoyed it. It’s tragic and complex and redemptive all at the same time. I loved Fen and Kamen, as well as Kamen’s whole team and Fen’s family. The world is complex and multi-demential and the peoples are varied.

I did occasionally, especially in climactic scenes, wonder how things that happened happened. I often knew what was happening, but felt I missed the explanation of how it was happening. How someone suddenly had control of another or caused a certain something to occur, etc. Similarly, sometimes things that were meant to be cryptic to the characters were also a little too cryptic to the reader. But all in all I loved it.

Review of How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1), by Alexis Hall

I received a copy of Alexis Hall‘s How to Bang a Billionaire through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me. 

I’m not really sure how to review this book, because I think my biggest problem with it is that it is what it is, and that’s hardly fair. It is my understanding that this is the first in a trilogy following the same couple, which makes this book roughly a 1/3 of the story. And while it did end at a natural place and it is long enough that I didn’t go all ragey about “why is it broken up,” like I do with some novella/serials, I still FEEL like I read a third of a story and didn’t get the payout I wanted in the end. But that’s what the book is, so should I really fault it for being what it is? In the end, I really just wish I had waited until they were all out to read any of it. Then I could look at the complete arc instead of trying to judge just part of it.

Based on what I’ve read so far, I like Arden and Caspian. But so much of the book is so painfully awkward. Which makes sense, since it’s two men being awkward with one another and failing to make a ‘relationship’ work. They pull it together in the end, but most of the book is them failing.

One of the things Hall seems to really like to do is take familiar tropes and subvert them, turn them on their head. And that’s what he’s done here. It’s a pastiche of the broody, emotionally stunted alpha billionaire. He’s recognizable, but far from what you’re used to and I appreciate that. (We even have Caspian and Arden, C & A, like Christian and Anna, maybe? A purposeful head nod?)

As always, the writing is lovely and lush and, in this case, funny too. I liked it. I’ll be looking for the rest of them. But I think I’ll wait until the series is complete.

Review of Wake Up Call (Porthkennack), by J.L. Merrow

I received a copy of J. L. Merrow‘s Wake up Call through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.

When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

I thought this was cute, but I won’t say I was blown away by it. I’ve read Merrow’s work before and quite enjoyed it (Muscling Through is one of my all time favorite MM novels), so I figure this is just one of those books I liked less than the others. It happens.

While I liked the writing and I enjoyed Dev’s regional dialect, I just thought nothing in the book stood out as special. Sure, the author included some heavy topics—chronic illness, adoption, rape, ‘the system,’ economic disparity, race, etc.—after a while they started to feel little more than plot mechanisms than anything deeply explored or fitting seamlessly into a natural story.

All in all, not a bad book. Again, I did think it was cute. I wouldn’t tell anyone not to read it. But it doesn’t stand out either.